Obama may ban NSA spying on leaders of U.S. allies
The Obama administration appears prepared to order the National Security Agency (NSA) to halt its intelligence-gathering methods targeting the heads of U.S.-allied states. The announcement comes after it was discovered that the NSA had tapped the personal cell phone of Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. The NSA has reportedly been recording calls and collecting contacts off of Merkel’s phone since 2002. Reports indicate that Obama was informed of the NSA’s surveillance of Merkel and complied with agency actions, which he denied in a recent phone call to Merkel. Both Germany and France have requested that the United States sign a no-spy agreement by the end of the year.
Obamacare website administrator apologizes for faulty rollout
Marilyn Tavenner, the website administrator for the new Obamacare health exchange, publicly apologized for the ongoing problems that have plagued the site since its launch. Tavenner is the first person from the Obama administration to apologize for the rollout of HealthCare.gov. She did, however, insist that the problems were being resolved and the overall health care program was working. Obama will travel to Faneuil Hall in Boston today to defend the Affordable Care Act in the very place where Mitt Romney signed Massachusetts’s landmark health reform law in 2006. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will also testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today about issues with the site.
Syria’s arms destruction plan may not be comprehensive
The Syrian government submitted plans to destroy all of its chemical weapons three days before the deadline set by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. However, it is unclear if the plan put forward by Syria is comprehensive. U.S. officials stated that there were 45 chemical weapon sites in September, but Syria only listed 23 in its proposal. The arms destruction plan is part of a U.N. resolution made in September requiring Syria to give up its weapons or face Security Council actions such as economic sanctions and military action.
Women in Saudi Arabia protest driving ban
In recent weeks, dozens of women have taken to the Internet, posting photos and videos of themselves behind the wheel in violation of the Saudi Arabian ban against women driving cars. Activists have vowed to continue the protests in the wake of government warnings and increased police presence. Although there is no written law that says that women are not allowed to drive, women cannot apply for driver’s licenses. Government officials have stated that the driving ban is in place because it is in accordance with the wishes of society. It is unclear whether the police will take action against women caught driving.